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A THOUGHT ON BJU, HOPE, AND CHANGE

I’ve been a loyal alumna since 1981, done my bit of defending my school, stuck up for Dr. Bob (even Junior, in all his nonsense and rudeness: “So’s your little boy!”), and generally kept my head stuck as far down into the sand as was practical with a figure like mine. I’ve avoided the noise, excused the things I couldn’t avoid, blamed Mr. Peterman and thought bad thoughts about Dr. Lewis, even to composing a little song (you might know the tune if you’re carnal):

Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, Camille-eons
Let Bob alone, Let Bob alooooone.

I wore black on red-balloon day, even though I rarely leave my house and live all the way out in California and I actually know gay people personally and have twice attended birthday parties for children who have two daddies. I toed the line.

After all, a girl—even someone as socially inert as I am—has friends, and I have some at BJU. Good friends with whom I laugh and cry. We pray for each other and each other’s marriages and children. We talk. We struggle. We mourn each other’s losses and cheer each other’s successes. We encourage and preach at each other. We hug across the miles. Some of them have been at BJU for decades. As my heart has been.

But then Joseph Bartosch happened, and my personal struggles with BJU and BJUP (that I’d blamed on myself—my inability to cope, my inappropriate expectations—You want us to sell your books? Wassamattayou? Didn’t you know writing books is your HOBBY?) popped out into the open without so much as a howdy-do. After decades of I’m-a-nice-alumna, I was suddenly slightly disaffected, sorta disgruntled, and a little bit mad. As days passed, the slightly-sorta-little bit part grew, and here we are.

You can read all about Dr. Bartosch in other places. You can read all about Tina Anderson and Matt Olsen and Chuck Phelps in other places. You can read all about Mr. Peterman’s being shipped nine days before graduation in other places. You can see the nonsense about Dr. Senior and the KKK, Dr. Junior and the paintings procured from Naziland, Dr. Third and the charming idea of “consensual rape”, and Dr. Stephen’s “PhD in Liberal Studies”—in other places. In other places you can read about Dr. Wood’s scandalous idea that a woman’s body is like a disposable diaper—someone defiles it, who cares, it’s just the throw-away part, Mr. Miller’s obsession with young men’s masturbation habits, Dr. Berg’s family-friendly advice to molestation victims not to call the police because their mothers will be angry with them if daddy gets sent to prison, and Dr. Mazak’s characterization of PTSD as sin. Vertigo is probably a sin too—brought on by the unbalancing realization that your degree is wobbly and that a school in China won’t make anything all better even if they hang your picture next to Chairman Mao’s and bow to it every morning.

In other places you can read about Dr. McCauley’s firing. (Pause for moment of stunned silence.) About which Stephen (PhD) (Liberal Studies), the University President, feels “helpless.” I wonder what Dr. McCauley (earned doctorate), beloved voice teacher and sometime Bottom-the-Ass, feels?

Other people are taking care of those things. What I want to talk about, in all my anger about these things that has bubbled over onto the surface of my life, is what I’d like to see changed.

For the record, I’m nobody. I have no voice, no audience, and a tiny blog following. I am in leadership nowhere. I church hop as it pleases me. I am in law school, but I am not a lawyer and may never be one (There’s the little matter of the California Bar Exam and the Moral Character Investigation—what will they think when they see I graduated from the Hallowed Halls?).

Still, I have thought about this for a long time, so here are a few things I would like to see happen While There is Yet Time, because if what I’ve heard about Freshman enrollment is true, There Isn’t Much.

1. Change the name of the school immediately to South Carolina Christian College, unless you have at least ten substantial reasons to keep the word “University.” No one should go to a school named Bob.

2. Bring in a new President from outside. An earned doctorate from a well-known university or seminary is required. He or she must agree to take no salary unless and until enrollment begins to rise. At that time, the salary will kick in at an agreed-upon rate until reaching a reasonable level for a similarly-situated ministry. Naturally, health benefits and other perks will begin on Day One. (What is done with Stephen, I do not care. He can go on disability if he can’t work, which is what other people with PhDs in Liberal Studies probably do.)

3. Require the Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees to sign and then read aloud in chapel to be permanently posted on sermonaudio.com the following statement:

“I have never aligned myself with, nor prayed for the success of the Ku Klux Klan. I regret my racist past, if any, and pledge myself to furthering the mission of South Carolina Christian College by actively seeking out African-American, Asian-American, and Hispanic-American faculty and students.

“Furthermore, I regret the termination of aging faculty and pledge that this practice will no longer occur. I pledge to sell the art collection, back-campus housing, or other non-educational assets rather than to abandon those who have given their working lives to this school.

“I further pledge to speak out boldly against any past, present, or future corruption relating to the College—including sexual abuse or its cover-up—when I learn of it and without regard for my own or my colleagues’ personal interests.

“Furthermore, as much as it lies in me, I will attempt to avoid speaking evil of the President of the United States during his or her term in office, even if he or she is a Democrat, so help me God.”

Anyone who cannot sign and read aloud this statement into the record shall not be retained on the Board. No leeway shall be given to veterinarians whose sons work at the Statehouse.

4. Vespers shall be held twice a semester on Thursday evenings. Attendance at either of these will fulfill a student’s vespers requirement (if any) for the semester.

5. Non-mandatory praise-and-worship services, led by a “Northland Style” worship band will be available for students to attend in the Amphitorium one night per semester. Attendance will not be taken. Hands may be raised in praise to Jesus. Tears of joy permitted. Speaking in tongues remains an expulsion offense, so students fearing the moving of the Spirit should sit out of earshot of others. Overflow seating in Rodeheaver with video link. Chaperones to be brought in from North Hills if there are insufficient faculty willing to attend.

6. Speaking of Jesus, it will be mandatory for Chapel Speakers to use His Name at least as often as the words homosexuality, bestiality, and pedophilia are used. A chart will be compiled by visiting Alumni Overseers.

7. Rants against homosexual students will end. Charts will be kept by the Alumni Overseers.

8. The Alumni Overseers will be a rotating body of volunteer alumni not currently employed by South Carolina Christian College. They will be conspicuous by their attire or an identifying badge. In addition to their keeping charts on chapel messages, they will accept signed and anonymous messages from students on any topic whatever. They will not report to anyone. Students do take the risk, when passing messages to the AOs that memes might be made about them. However, all memes will be kept in good humor and without names. Urgent messages will be passed to appropriate law enforcement. Confidential messages regarding the following (and related) will be kept confidential and students will be steered to appropriate, loving resources:

a. “I might be gay.”
b. “I might be pregnant.”

8. In the interest of academic and political freedom, a Young Democrats club will be formed for those who need an outlet for their rebellion as well as for the poli-curious and incoming minority students (see Board oath, above). No one will be penalized, snubbed, or shunned for joining or attending this club, which will meet on the First Tuesday after the First Monday of every month (because it just makes sense) in an easily-accessible campus room. (That is, not the Rupp Room.) Republican students who “crash” the meeting may not “report” anyone for making fun of Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin. (On other Tuesdays, the campus “Birther” club will meet in Lecture A. Kenyan coffee served by genuine Timothy-student Kikuyu.)

9. The following nonsense will end: characterization of Reformed thought as “unbiblical.” If possible, lure Dr. Michael P.V. Barrett back from parts unknown so that people will enjoy Bible class again and Sandra can be near her grandchildren. Ignore Dr. Barrett’s characterization of students as “idiots” in the interest of fascinating Reformed, if premillennial, teaching.

10. A serious effort to recruit black faculty will begin immediately. There are a number of doctorally-prepared black Reformed pastors around. Start with Dr. Reddit Andrews and move on from there.

11. Bring back dessert.

12. Acknowledge that pants are not a privilege, and front campus is not a place for figure-flattering hosiery choices.

12. Bring back Dr. McCauley. Apologize to Dr. McCauley. Promote Dr. McCauley to Chief Brand Officer, although it must be admitted that his wife is a bit young for him too.

13. Shut down the impractical and non-profitable extra “ministries.” Stop with the China School. Our enrollment is dwindling. Our demographic is shrinking. We need to expand our ministry by opening up the music and shutting down the hateful nonsense that mental illness is fake and rape victims who talk about it are psycho.

Sharon Hambrick
MA, Church History, 1981 (this degree is no longer offered, somewhat like a PhD in Liberal Studies)
BJUP, 1992-1997, Elementary Authors: Math, Heritage Studies, Bible.
Author of 11 children’s books with Journeyforth, including the Arby Jenkins series, The Year of Abi Crim, Adoniram Judson: God’s Man in Burma (also available in Korean), The Fig Street Kids Series (the Tommy Books), and Brain Games (a novel, not a puzzle book).

Sharon

20 Comments

  1. Mrs. Hambrick,

    This post is perfection. Complete and utter perfection. I would respectfully and gladly apply to South Carolina Christian College — with two additions 1) they pursue and gain regional accreditation through SACS and 2) Mrs. Sharon Hambrick has a predominant place on faculty.

    Thank you for this post,
    Chris

    • I’m so sorry I won’t be able to teach there. As you know, I’ve been divorced and remarried, and Dr. Smith very pointedly told me that while he would love to see me teach at LINK, teaching in the classroom was definitely out because I might “influence someone.” Also, three of my children are black, so, you know, they won’t be attending. But thank you for that. I love to teach and have had some success in classroom teaching, including subbing at BJES, BJJH, and BJA, where, apparently, I didn’t have the opportunity to influence anyone.

  2. Sharon, I literally wept when I read your post. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in an alternate Universe-I can’t understand why people cannot see what that place is and what it consistently does to hurt people-to hurt their most loyal faculty, alumni, etc.
    I was like you-I had some significant hope that when Stephen took over they might actually “change.” My husband and I are/were personal friends of Erin and Stephen. Had dessert in their house with them not that long ago. Tried to see him every time he came to Ohio. I did believe he was trying to change the place.
    He fired then hired the immediates around him (VP roles, Provost, etc) but he never took care of the other large problem-the deans and the department heads. Darren Lawson? Really? It blows my mind that people are scared to come out and say how utterly atrocious Milltown Pride was, not to mention how over budget, over time, over-everything it was and then they FIRED the director the very next semester (Tim Rogers.) Thanks for all your overtime on the film-Bye.
    And Ed Dunbar….Ohhhhhh Ed Dunbar. How many stories have we all heard for 30 years now about Ed. He is a petty, under-qualfied man who has consistently put the LEAST qualified people possible as head’s of inner departments (his wife for instance?) over all the actual doctorates who were there at the time-Parker, McCauley, Lewis, Ginger, Gilliam, Cook etc. No one in administration thought that one over?
    Well, I mean Darren is too busy starring in his own films with his wife and “producing” every show on campus (whatever that means…*I* thought producing meant backing with money, but apparently it does not)…so how would he ever have the time to actually LOOK at what’s happening in the music department. Speech and Art and certainly no better (Darren again) and full of the pettiest nonsense on earth. Did you know that Grad students in Speech now have their plays chosen for them…and one particular student wants to do Shakespeare next year…nope…he’s having to do a Dave Schwingle play. I mean, why not? He teaches the writing classes now, even though he isn’t published.
    Academically it’s become a joke. The Fine Arts used to have something to offer. Not anymore. But don’t you dare complain about, say Darren’s directing of an opera (remember-he doesn’t speak Italian, French or German). That was one of the fatal mistakes my father made…he voiced an opinion too loudly about Darren’s awful stage directing of a particular opera. Weeks later, my dad found himself outside the Admin building with Lawson screaming at him (yes, literally red-faced screaming) about what a “gossip” my dad was, and how he “didn’t care” about his opinion on the opera and how he *would* see that my dad would be fired.
    And Voila!
    Exactly one year later, guess who’s terminated? The man with 2 masters from TN Temple, University of Miami/Cincinnati and a doctorate from the same with post doctoral work at NYU two summers, not to mention 20 plus years of actually seeing and studying operas in over 25 countries, published articles in opera magazines, 40 years of teaching, I’ll stop there…this is getting boring.
    But *someone* “had” to be let go. And Dunbar said it was McCauley, and Stephen’s hands are “completely tied.” Dunbar said he was clearly the weakest teacher in the department. The reasons have been all over the board-they’ve changed several times.
    I could go on for pages and pages. I have been a good little girl, like you, and been fairly careful about keeping my mouth shut about how BJU treats people.
    But that was merely to keep my parents employed, since The Promise has been taken away and they have no real retirement. Social Security based off poverty level won’t do much.
    Thank you for speaking out.
    Like I said in the beginning, I can’t understand why people either can’t see this, or are so afraid to speak up and say This Is Wrong. Somebody Do Something.

    • Erin,
      Thank you for writing. I cannot imagine how horrified your entire family is by this situation.

  3. Dear Sharon,

    I am so grateful for your courage, your passion and your tenacious truthfulness.

    We will not agree about all of the solutions to the problems you have addressed, but I am so grateful for the fact that you are willing to name those problems with honesty and grace.

    We at BJUnity are most grateful for your compassionate understanding of the issues that affect our constituency, namely the shameful way that BJU has treated its LGBT students and alumni over many years and the way we have been singled out by the chancellor who has trivialized our loves and demonized our lives for so long.

    Jeffrey Hoffman
    Executive Director
    BJUnity
    the affirming alternative for alumni and students of Bob Jones University (and other fundamentalist institutions)

  4. I enjoyed your post, Time for Change which I found on FB. I was wondering if you could give me the source and or sources that prove Dr Bob jr purchased nazi paintings. My understanding was he traveled Europe and found great deals because that style was not currently in favor..

  5. AMEN!!!!! Thank you for your insightful commentary. May God’s sweet mercies make these things come to be for Jesus sake and the good of His people.

  6. Regarding Dr. Dad’s firing: Things like this happen. They have to let people go because they’re not getting the enrollment they need, and it just happened to be the voice department that was forced to let someone go. And honestly, out of all the voice teachers, I would have also picked him to leave. After spending a lot of time accompanying for many teachers in that building, Dr. McCauley was just not one of the best. So the claims his daughter mentioned of him wasting time and not getting high marks on his evaluation sheets are all justified. He would spend half of the lesson talking about his health problems. Also, if you look at his track record, his students don’t have the highest rate of going on to grad school or professional music careers. I’m sure these were all factors that were taken into consideration. He’s had a good run, but I think this was a very good decision.

    • You were a student accompanist? But you aren’t very well informed about what comes out of Dr. McCauley’s work with his students. As far as students who go to grad school at the doctoral level, he’s had six who have earned DMAs–by far the largest number to come out of BJU. And he’s had the only two BJU students ever to win regional and district Metropolitan Opera national competition. Both of them now also have doctorates and college teaching jobs. So you really just don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re not quite ready to pass judgment on professionals. The proof of the pudding is the student’s accomplishments.

    • Aaron (or whoever you are since you posted the identical words in another blog), exactly what are your credentials, side from being an accompanist, that enable you to make a judgment call on Dr. McCauley’s career? “He had a good run.” Seriously? That’s the kind of comment appropriate for an ESPN analysis of an aging pitcher or a quarterback with bad knees. The fact you refer to Bill as “Dr. Dad” speaks volumes about your lack of respect for Dr. McCauley’s career. So does your comment, “…things like this happen.” No, they don’t – not in institutions where professors such as Dr. McCauley would have been paid a decent salary (and therefore much higher Social Security benefits), tenure, a secure retirement plan, and respect for his body of work.

      Ah, Mark, the old Matthew 18 defense. “In-house” method for dealing with many of these problems means lack of accountability to the laws of the land. And that is unbiblical.

  7. P.S. Everything else I absolutely LOVE and agree with. Great ideas. Hopefully Stephen sees them and thinks them through.

  8. Excellent read, Sharon. My parents graduated from BJU, my grandparents (both sets) graduated from BJU and all my uncles and aunts on both sides of the family spent some time at BJU in their academic careers. From 1984-2007, there was some relative of mine at BJU either studying or working there. But we’ve moved so far away from that now, it’s not even funny. I went to Northland. I still could be there. But the Lord has his will and ways, and so moved me on from Northland. I am very grateful for my time at Northland, because it is there that I discovered what is absolutely essential, the gospel. I am now in Australia, studying at a university over there (or here) and loving every moment of it. BJU MUST get with the times, apologise for what it has (or has not) done, and do exactly what Brian Fuller did in the aftermath of the Tina Anderson thing, invite the national media into the college campus, into its classrooms, into its offices, to prove that it has nothing to hide. Then, and only then, (after a name change and a praise and worship band) can the stench of what it used to be (and still is) be removed.

  9. As a BJU grad myself, but more a ” flawed and sinful but trying” adherent to the Scriptures, I’m not a big fan of professing CHristians trotting out other professing Christians sins in front of the whole world. The Bible prescribes an in-house method for dealing with these problems – Matthew 18. Hint: It doesn’t include “blogging.”

  10. This is awesome! Thank you for your bravery in stepping out like this even though some people in your life might be upset.

  11. Thanks for blogging this. The only hope for change is for BJU grads to speak up about the system of injustice at BJU.

  12. I saw your post because my cousin, an alum herself, posted it on Facebook. My parents are both BJU alums, as are many of my extended family. I went to a dreaded public college, followed by a public law school. (Don’t worry – if you apply yourself to studying for it, you will pass the bar!) While I’m sure my grandmother enjoys saying I’m an attorney, I am sure that she is less proud to say that the majority of my time is spent handling divorces and defending criminals. Disappointing her and many of those with “BJU tunnel vision” is no shock to me though. Thankfully my parents are a little more progressive, though even they have their moments. I just wanted to say that it’s refreshing to see that you are able to look at BJU and see the need for change. I pray that those who are able to make it happen will take such action!

  13. Interesting – the comment from “Aaron” is word-for-word identical to a comment on Beth Murschell’s blog where she talked about Dr. McCauley’s leaving BJU at the end of the year.. Only on her blog the comment is from “Andrew.”

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